Gender Responsive Governance: From Elizabeth Fry to Baroness Jean Corston

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Abstract

This article provides an analysis of gender responsive discourses governing female offenders in England and Wales, from the 19th century penal reform endeavours of Elizabeth Fry to the 21st century proposals of Baroness Jean Corston. Despite a gap of nearly 200 years between the work of Fry and Corston, and some clear differences between their conclusions and recommendations, there are significant ideological and discursive continuities that should be addressed in order to illuminate the construction and impact of gendered penal strategies for women. Three discursive continuities are discussed here. First, that women who offend have intrinsic problems or deficiencies that must be addressed in order for reform/rehabilitation to occur. Second, that these 'deficiencies' require (what are presented as) ‘gentle’ or ‘benign’ gender specific institutional regimes. Third, that offending women must take personal responsibility for their own reform/rehabilitation by engaging with, and endorsing, these regimes. Finally, it is also argued that these regimes, whilst presented as individually beneficial and personally empowering, in reality reflect and serve broader social, economic and political interests.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPrison Service Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 12 Jul 2019

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regime
governance
reform
rehabilitation
gender
continuity
political interest
social economics
offender
responsibility
discourse

Keywords

  • Gender responsivity
  • Neoliberalism
  • Corston Report
  • feminism

Cite this

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title = "Gender Responsive Governance: From Elizabeth Fry to Baroness Jean Corston",
abstract = "This article provides an analysis of gender responsive discourses governing female offenders in England and Wales, from the 19th century penal reform endeavours of Elizabeth Fry to the 21st century proposals of Baroness Jean Corston. Despite a gap of nearly 200 years between the work of Fry and Corston, and some clear differences between their conclusions and recommendations, there are significant ideological and discursive continuities that should be addressed in order to illuminate the construction and impact of gendered penal strategies for women. Three discursive continuities are discussed here. First, that women who offend have intrinsic problems or deficiencies that must be addressed in order for reform/rehabilitation to occur. Second, that these 'deficiencies' require (what are presented as) ‘gentle’ or ‘benign’ gender specific institutional regimes. Third, that offending women must take personal responsibility for their own reform/rehabilitation by engaging with, and endorsing, these regimes. Finally, it is also argued that these regimes, whilst presented as individually beneficial and personally empowering, in reality reflect and serve broader social, economic and political interests.",
keywords = "Gender responsivity, Neoliberalism, Corston Report, feminism",
author = "HELEN ELFLEET",
year = "2019",
month = "7",
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journal = "Prison Service Journal",
issn = "0300-3558",
publisher = "HM Prison Service",

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Gender Responsive Governance: From Elizabeth Fry to Baroness Jean Corston. / ELFLEET, HELEN.

In: Prison Service Journal, 12.07.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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N2 - This article provides an analysis of gender responsive discourses governing female offenders in England and Wales, from the 19th century penal reform endeavours of Elizabeth Fry to the 21st century proposals of Baroness Jean Corston. Despite a gap of nearly 200 years between the work of Fry and Corston, and some clear differences between their conclusions and recommendations, there are significant ideological and discursive continuities that should be addressed in order to illuminate the construction and impact of gendered penal strategies for women. Three discursive continuities are discussed here. First, that women who offend have intrinsic problems or deficiencies that must be addressed in order for reform/rehabilitation to occur. Second, that these 'deficiencies' require (what are presented as) ‘gentle’ or ‘benign’ gender specific institutional regimes. Third, that offending women must take personal responsibility for their own reform/rehabilitation by engaging with, and endorsing, these regimes. Finally, it is also argued that these regimes, whilst presented as individually beneficial and personally empowering, in reality reflect and serve broader social, economic and political interests.

AB - This article provides an analysis of gender responsive discourses governing female offenders in England and Wales, from the 19th century penal reform endeavours of Elizabeth Fry to the 21st century proposals of Baroness Jean Corston. Despite a gap of nearly 200 years between the work of Fry and Corston, and some clear differences between their conclusions and recommendations, there are significant ideological and discursive continuities that should be addressed in order to illuminate the construction and impact of gendered penal strategies for women. Three discursive continuities are discussed here. First, that women who offend have intrinsic problems or deficiencies that must be addressed in order for reform/rehabilitation to occur. Second, that these 'deficiencies' require (what are presented as) ‘gentle’ or ‘benign’ gender specific institutional regimes. Third, that offending women must take personal responsibility for their own reform/rehabilitation by engaging with, and endorsing, these regimes. Finally, it is also argued that these regimes, whilst presented as individually beneficial and personally empowering, in reality reflect and serve broader social, economic and political interests.

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KW - Neoliberalism

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